Microsoft has a new program that gives a stamp of approval to select practice test providers.

Testing the Practice Test Providers

Microsoft has a new program that gives a stamp of approval to select practice test providers.

For a large and growing number of MCPs, a crucial step in the certification process is taking a practice test before taking the actual exam. Practice tests—the good ones, anyway—accurately reflect both the content of the actual Microsoft exam and the style of the test engine and questions.

Practice tests can serve a variety of purposes. If you already possess in-depth product and technical knowledge, a practice test might be helpful early on, to confirm expertise and pinpoint areas that require additional study. If you don’t already have such a background, a practice test should follow—not precede—coursework or other study material. Practice tests are also helpful because actual exams are designed to measure your skill level, not to provide education or prescriptive feedback. A good product can thus provide valuable feedback, helping you further your education and confidence. The right practice product can also familiarize you with computer-based testing and timed-testing, which are used in all Microsoft exams.

But which practice test should you take? There’s a growing body of tests available from third-party vendors that are of varying and uneven quality. The virtues of various practice tests are debated on MCP forums, and customers frequently ask Microsoft for our recommendations.

To provide this sort of information to MCP candidates, to steer them to what we believe are the most useful practice tests available, and to provide a check on the overall quality of practice tests, Microsoft has introduced the MCP Practice Test Provider (PTP) program. The PTP program logo on a practice test is your quality assurance of a test that will supplement and contribute to your exam preparation. Microsoft requires that PTP program participants:

  • Submit practice tests to Microsoft for quality reviews.
  • Offer products with the functionality to provide feedback for each question.
  • Cover all of the exam objectives as specified on the Microsoft exam preparation guide.
  • Provide a wide range of practice tests titles to cover the content of nearly every Microsoft exam.
  • Include a variety of questions and question types.
  • Provide technical support for the user interface of its products.
  • Include real-world, complex scenarios that are similar to those in MCP exams and that discourage rote memorization of exam items.
  • Support the integrity of MCP exams and the value of the MCP credential.

We’re working hard to ensure that PTP program companies cover virtually all MCP exams with practice tests. About 75 percent of exams already have practice tests (almost all exams will be covered soon), and PTP program testers have committed to issuing a practice test for each new exam within 90 days of an exam’s debut. We’re also working hard to ensure that tests are available in the same variety of languages that reflect the diversity of our MCPs.

The first two PTP program participants are MeasureUp, Inc. and Self Test Software, Inc. To learn more about them and about the PTP program, visit

About the Author

Steve Gzesh is the Account Manager for the Certification and Skills Assessment Group at Microsoft.